On January 5, Civic Tech Toronto (CTTO) kicked off its month-long residency at Architech with a push toward making a positive impact in the lives of Canada’s incoming Syrian refugee population.
Members of the Refugee Welcome Toronto project filled one of Architech’s boardrooms to drive discussion around what that impact would look like and how it would take form.
The good news is there’s no shortage of people to help. In that respect, CTTO already has a solid pool of potential resources to work with. A group of Architech’s own dedicated developers, designers and strategists have also committed to lend their talents to the cause.
As it currently stands, there are dozens of online initiatives that seek to support the Syrian refugees, both government and community-run. An initiative, in this case, can be anything from a drive to provide warm winter clothes to a database that helps Canadians sponsor Syrian families in their resettlement process.
These resources all have the same goal: To ease what will undoubtedly be a challenging transition ahead. But sometimes finding resources is different from finding the right resources.
The civic hackers at CTTO came up with an idea: What if they could create a tool that would serve as an aggregator for all available resources? This would include everything from volunteer opportunities to a hub for Syrian-Canadians to connect with one another and provide direction, support and community. In addition to serving as an invaluable group tool, this system would ease pressure on MPs and organizations struggling to handle the volume of responsibility.
Over the next four weeks, CTTO will speak to government officials, civic experts, other refugee groups, volunteers and, most importantly, Syrian community members themselves. The purpose of these interviews is to try to understand the refugee experience from every angle, which will help CTTO distill key findings, problems, and gaps where the project can truly make impact.
The “super lofty goal” (as CTTO calls it) is to ultimately design and build a centralized locus that will result in a better process and overall experience for the people who need it most. What that system will look like is up to the bright, motivated, and dedicated minds that have lent their talents to the cause. But even if their lofty goal doesn’t meet the deadline, the group will be happy with a greater understanding through their research of how to empathize with the refugee experience in Canada.
Stay tuned to our blog for exciting progress updates. For more information on CTTO’s concurrent projects, check out Civic Tech Toronto.